U.S. Senate candidate Murray Sabrin has found a novel way to appeal to young voters: let them drink.
Sabrin is kicking off his Legalizing Freedom College Tour by calling on the elimination of the national minimum drinking age of 21 in favor of allowing states to come up with their own ages.
Over the next month, Sabrin will visit four New Jersey college campuses to try to get youngsters riled up for his campaign. He’s planned stops at William Paterson University, Stevens Institute of Technology, Fairleigh Dickinson University and Brookdale Community college.
His call for drinking age reform is one example of his campaign to “legalize freedom,” he said.
“America is supposed to be the example of freedom around the world. If you listen to some of our elected leaders, our number one export is supposed to be freedom,” said Sabrin. “Yet, our country has the highest drinking age in the world.”
New Jersey changed its drinking age from 19 to 21 in 1982. Two years later, the federal government passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984, which mandated that states either raise their drinking age to 21 or face a 10% reduction in federal highway aid. The law was authored by U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who Sabrin hopes to challenge in November.
Louisiana was the last state to hold out, only beginning to enforce drinking age of 21 in 1996. In the 1980s, the state outlawed the purchase of alcohol by those ages 18 through 20, but a loophole in the law permitted vendors to sell to them.
Sabrin thinks that each state should be able to decide its own drinking age.
“It is hypocritical to ask 18 year olds to die for our country and tell them they are not able to enjoy a beer. It is wrong to tell a 19 year old it is his or her responsibility to vote or serve on juries yet they aren’t responsible to have a glass of wine with their families,” Sabrin wrote in an op-ed attached to the press release about the “Legalize Freedom Tour.”
“Let there be a debate at the state level and each state can make their own judgments – exactly the way the Founders of our country envisioned,” he added.
State Sen. Joe Pennacchio, who Sabrin is challenging for the Republican Senate nomination, said that Sabrin’s idea proves he is a “fringe candidate.”
“Professor Sabrin would have us put Jack Daniels in baby bottles,” said Pennacchio, who admitted the statement was hyperbole, but said that it was fair game considering that Sabrin had called him fascist for some ideas he wrote up in a 1991 publication, like housing the homeless in military bases.
“He thinks he’s pandering to a group that’s quite frankly a lot smarter than he thinks they are,” said Pennacchio. “I would prefer talking to college students and talking about how I wouldn’t vote to bring back the draft. That’s an important issue.”